I have lived in the vicinity of Celebration Restaurant in Dallas for years. I remember studying for the bar exam 13 years ago and running over there to get pot roast to go. We were living in a back-house apartment with our things crammed high up every wall, living out of boxes in about 500 square feet. The kitchen was tiny and not too clean and running over to Celebration was the equivalent of going to visit grandma. It was a little taste of calm and comfort.
Fast forward 13 years and now they have a great “to go” and catering business…which I have used for everything from birthday parties to funerals. It is just good home-style food. And now, they have a farmers market in the parking lot every Saturday morning from 8 until 12. It is shameful that it took me so long to get up there to check it out. After all, it is within walking distance from my house. It is part craft fair, part bakery shop, part vegetable garden. There is an organic meat vendor, and an organic egg vendor. There are baskets and baskets of beautiful melons, and tomatoes and eggplants.
You can cover the whole thing in five minutes, yet somehow the kids and I stayed up there for an hour. I ran into an old friend, Aimee, who was there getting some fruit for her family. I talked to just about every vendor and each was more friendly than the last. I came home with a bag of homemade dog treats, a big bag of cookies, and a package of tamales. Lily bought a cool ponytail holder from Anita Maya, a sweet lady who had handcrafted items ranging from rosaries to embellished aprons to coin purses made out of Capri Sun drink pouches. How’s that for re-purposing.
The Texas Honeybee Guild: I really like this product. These are the folks who sell the local “zip code” honey. I’m glad to see them at Celebration as it is one of the vendors that will compel me to go down to the Dallas Farmers Market. All the better that I can get the honey a few blocks away. For a great article on the Texas Honeybee Guild click on the following pdf link to an Edible Dallas and Fort Worth Article.
Waggin’ Tail Treats: Karen Murphy makes all manner of all natural gourmet dog treats ranging in flavors from peanut butter to bacon. She will even make your canine pal a bone shaped birthday cake.
The Grain Exchange: Sarah McClenaghan sells gluten free baking mixes for those of my pals who avoid gluten in their goodies. She calls them, “Baked Goods that Love You Back.” I like that. If you know any gluten free families, pass along the link.
Work in Clay: Julie Brown makes gorgeous pottery vessels. She makes these giant spoons and tiny coffee spoons that are decorated with such care and attention. I really love serving in handmade pottery bowls because there is something nice about every single step of the serving process to be handmade, homemade and created with the utmost attention. Julie’s pottery is not only lovely but functional and I was drawn particularly to her clay colanders which she said were amongst her best sellers.
The Tamale Company: Lily has a new passion for tamales. So she was excited that the big blue cooler next to the doggy treat vendor was brimming with various flavors of tamales. Our favorite was the black bean variety, but we also tried the pork tamales and they were excellent. There is a varying range of spiciness in the tamales…a little something for everyone. My favorite feature is that they come frozen in a vacuum sealed plastic bag and to serve them you only need to submerge the bag in simmering water for 20 minutes. How easy is that?
Kessler Cookie Company: Yum. I don’t know what else to say. This company makes one of the best oatmeal cranberry cookies that I’ve ever had the opportunity to enjoy. It was chewy, with just the perfect amount of sweetness and really good oatmeal.
Farm Fresh Soaps: Chrissy Daley has an impressive array of homemade soaps. And they smell like a garden not like a perfume shop. She sells bath salts and scrubs and salves, but the product that really caught my attention was the “Don’t Bug Me” insect balm. It contains 9 essential oils, and she claims that a applying the balm in a just few spots keeps her completely protected from pests on her ranch. I didn’t buy any on this trip but it is definitely on my “to try” list as we have vicious mosquitoes in our area.
Austinuts: So good. Ford even ate a pecan which I don’t believe he has ever done before, so that is saying something.
St. Lucia Bread Company: An incredibly nice man named Bucky was manning this station with a great smile and lots of samples. St Lucia has flavors such as Pear Bread with Walnuts and Blueberry Bread with Walnuts, and a Chocolate Chunk Bread that Bucky said needed to be warmed slightly for the full chocolaty wonderful effect. He was also selling Stephanie’s Premium Bakeries cookies which I have mentioned before from the McKinney Farmers Market Post. They are delicious “no sugar added” cookies and muffins. She uses a derivative of beet sugar in her cookies which she said were safer for diabetics because they don’t have as dramatic a glycemic effect as sugar. The kids think they are great.
Like I said, there were several other vendors. It made for a very entertaining morning. The kids love wandering around and talking to people about the weather. They also love eating their weight in cookie samples.
I am learning that there are a huge number of really high quality food producers in Dallas. These are our neighbors and they are entrepreneurs. They are working their tails off to put out wonderful, delicious, and innovative foods and we would all be well served to encourage these enterprises by trying out their offerings and recommending them to our friends.
The Celebration Market is the smallest I’ve visited lately, but it is well worth a visit. If you live close by, get up on Saturday and go take a look. We are lucky to have this sort of opportunity. I hope the City of Dallas and other communities will help encourage these types of markets. They are fun and they are an opportunity for independent small-business-persons and small companies to showcase their wares. If I have learned anything from this blog project it is that when people with a common interests get together and support each other the numbers that can be mobilized are staggering. If I tell my friends about Kessler Cookies and you tell your friends about Kessler Cookies and they tell theirs, for instance, we can collectively create thriving independent food communities all over the country. I think this is a ton of fun and I hope you do, too.
Note from a week later: I went back to the market today and there were several vendors I missed last week. I’m so glad I went back. Have you heard of In a Pickle? It is a really great company out of Fort Worth that makes curiously spicy and sweet pickles. I have definitive opinions about pickles and I declare these absolutely delicious…or as they call them “Splendiferously different.” Try them if you get a chance. Also the Mary B Bakery was there with “light” pound cakes. The kids gave them a thumbs up and I give a thumbs up to anyone who is able to make a pound cake light. And, finally, the very fun Amelie Marchesseau of Amelie Art was there painting a great dog portrait right there on the spot. She also had market bags made from recycled dog food bags that were very, very cute.